Sheriff’s office opts to create own recovery program

Kosciusko County Sheriff Jim Smith talks about the new program, xxxxxx, Thursday during a news conference. News Now Warsaw photo by Dan Spalding.
By Dan Spalding
News Now Warsaw

WARSAW — Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Office is opting not to use a jail program that helps inmates prepare to re-enter society that’s made available by the state and will instead establish its own program relying on local and state grants and support from nearby agencies.

Sheriff Jim Smith announced on Thursday that he will seek local funding through the K21 Health Foundation and rely on a handful of local agencies to provide what is being called the Community Recovery Program (CRP).

The state program, Integrated Reentry and Correctional Support program, and known simply as IRACS, would grant each participating jail upward of $500,000 to build their teams and infrastructure. It began with pilot programs in 2022 and Kosciusko County had been considering opting in.

“Not that IRACS is bad, but it’s going to allow us by doing this (CRP), to really utilize all of the great resources that Kosciusko County has to offer,” Smith said.

Smith announced the plan at a news conference Thursday morning and then presented the plan to the county council Thursday night.

Council approved a request to apply for grant money from K21 Health Foundationto pay or a resource navigator for the first few years before it eventually is funded by the county.

The navigator is one of three aspects to the CRP. The others are peer recovery coaches who will come from local agencies and mental health experts who will be paid through other grant money, Smith said.

But Smith said he’d rather hire a resource navigator with inital money from K21.

CRP will work with inmates — who are willing — to help prepare them to re-enter society in several ways, including helping acquire documents such as driver’s licenses, birth certificates and other paperwork.

Much of the focus on inmates would begin 60-90 days before their expected release.

CRP will work alongside the jail’s chemical addiction program known as JCAP.

CRP will also address addiction and mental health issues, among other areas that have not been readily available in the past.

“They want help, they want this resource, they just don’t know where to begin and this is exactly what this program’s going to provide,” Smith said.

The program, he said, is also expected to help reduce recidivism and the jail population, which has been rising.